Suggested links
National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland

National Cancer Institute

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda, Maryland, is an official branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) dedicated to improving the lives of cancer patients across the country. NCI supports clinical trials for patients with mesothelioma and other types of cancer and uses its research to change the way cancers are diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

Speak with our nurse for help contacting this cancer center

About the National Cancer Institute

The NIH National Cancer Institute was established by Congress in 1937 and is the federal government’s primary agency for cancer research and training. Today, NCI is the largest funder of cancer research in the world and has a budget of $7.22 billion for 2024.

The National Cancer Institute conducts clinical trials and supports cancer research across the country to gain scientific knowledge about this devastating disease and help patients live longer, fuller lives.

These clinical trials are more important than ever as people continue to be diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related cancers every day.

Get our Free Mesothelioma Guide to learn about treatments and clinical trials offered at the NCI and other top cancer centers.

Mesothelioma Guide Images
Get Your Free 2024 Mesothelioma Guide
  • Symptoms & staging
  • Average prognosis
  • Life-extending treatments

Get Your Free Guide

National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers

NCI also gives its stamp of approval to cancer centers across the country. NCI-Designated Cancer Centers perform groundbreaking research aimed at developing new and more effective ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat mesothelioma and other cancers.

There are 72 National Cancer Institute Designated Cancer Centers across 36 states and the District of Columbia that receive NCI funding to deliver advanced cancer care.

These include:

  • Cancer Centers: There are 8 NCI Cancer Centers, which are known for their scientific leadership, resources, and extensive research in cancer control and prevention.
  • Comprehensive Cancer Centers: Cancer Centers that have shown an even greater depth and scope of research are designated National Cancer Institute Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers (CCC). There are 57 of these facilities in the U.S., and they are considered to be among the best in the world at treating cancer.
  • Basic Laboratory Cancer Centers: These 7 centers focus on laboratory research while working with other institutions to apply their findings to discover new and better treatments.

While most NCI-Designated Cancer Centers are affiliated with university medical centers, a few are independent institutions that only conduct cancer research.

National Cancer Institute & Mesothelioma Treatment

For many years, the National Cancer Institute has conducted research for the treatment of mesothelioma.

Many of these treatments involve testing new mesothelioma drugs and medications, including immunotherapy drugs like PD-1 and PD-L1 checkpoint inhibitors and CAR T-cell therapy. In both of these treatments, the patient’s own immune system is used to find and attack cancer cells.

NCI also tests combinations of medications for the treatment of mesothelioma through clinical trials. For example, NCI researchers have analyzed how chemotherapy drugs and immunotherapy drugs interact with one another in different combinations.

Several NCI mesothelioma clinical trials are researching life-extending treatments. One phase I/II trial is studying how well pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) with and without anetumab ravtansine for treating patients with mesothelin-positive pleural mesothelioma.

Another phase I clinical trial is studying the use of the immunotherapy drug nivolumab (Opdivo®) with chemotherapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma patients who are undergoing aggressive surgery.

Contact our Patient Advocates to get help accessing cancer treatments that can help you live longer.

Mesothelioma Treatment Research at the National Cancer Institute

Through its clinical trials, the National Cancer Institute tests new and innovative treatments on patients who meet certain criteria and have volunteered to take part.

NCI research is used to improve mesothelioma cancer:

  • Diagnosis: Since early detection is essential, new methods for diagnosing mesothelioma may provide faster and more accurate test results and lead to more successful treatments.
  • Treatment: Researchers are working on finding new treatments for mesothelioma and improving current therapies to minimize side effects.
  • Quality of life: Patients who are more comfortable while battling mesothelioma have a better quality of life.
  • Prevention: Doctors are studying the potential for mesothelioma vaccines to prevent the development of the disease in patients who are considered high risk and the return of the cancer in those who have successfully undergone treatment.

The overall goal of this research is to reduce the rate of new mesothelioma cancer cases and deaths from this devastating disease.

Patient Care at the National Cancer Institute

Patients who are enrolled in clinical trials receive care at the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and the Developmental Therapeutics Clinic, which is NCI’s in-house cancer center.

This allows patients to be treated at a location close to where the research is taking place and creates a collaborative environment between cancer researchers and doctors.

Medical care at NCI is free. Some clinical studies also cover travel, food, and lodging expenses for patients who are not local to the area.

In order to participate in an NCI mesothelioma clinical trial, a patient must:

  • Have a confirmed mesothelioma diagnosis
  • Meet the eligibility requirements for a current mesothelioma clinical trial that is open and accepting new patients (like having a specific cell type of mesothelioma)
  • Provide all necessary medical records and paperwork

Those who qualify will be invited for an in-person screening visit and, if they meet the criteria, accepted into the mesothelioma research trial.

Clinical research participants either get the treatment being tested, a placebo (a treatment with no therapeutic benefit), or the standard treatment for comparison purposes.

A mesothelioma specialist can help you find clinical trials that may be able to help you live longer and improve your quality of life. Use our Free Doctor Match to connect with specialists in your area.

Mesothelioma doctor talking with an older couple
Free Mesothelioma Doctor Match

We'll help you connect with a local mesothelioma specialist for personalized treatment.

Find a Doctor Near You

National Cancer Institute Mesothelioma Researchers

Mesothelioma doctors and researchers at the National Cancer Institute are specialists in various fields, including oncology, thoracic surgery, hematology, radiation therapy, and more.

Doctors on the mesothelioma care team at NCI include:

  • Dr. Andrew M. Blakely: Surgical oncologist, with specialties in peritoneal mesothelioma and gastrointestinal stromal tumors
  • Dr. Anish Thomas: A doctor in the Developmental Therapeutics branch, with specialties in cancer genomics and cancer metastasis
  • Dr. David S. Schrump: Surgical Chief of the Thoracic Surgery Branch, with specialties in lung cancer and immunotherapy
  • Dr. Raffit Hassan: Head of the Head, Thoracic, and Solid Tumor Immunotherapy section, with specialties in mesothelioma, immunology, and immunotherapy

These NCI mesothelioma doctors are at the forefront of the fight against mesothelioma and are committed to providing patients with the best care possible.

Get Mesothelioma Treatment at the National Cancer Institute

Clinical trials at the National Cancer Institute can offer new hope to mesothelioma patients who have exhausted standard treatment options, leading to an improved quality of life or extended survival time.

Mesothelioma Hope can connect you with a National Cancer Institute designated cancer center where you may be able to get treatment to help you live longer and enjoy more time with the people you love.

Call (866) 608-8933 now to learn more or get started with our Free Doctor Match service.

Mesothelioma Hope has no affiliation with and is not endorsed or sponsored by National Cancer Institute. Any contact information listed is for informational purposes only. You have the right to contact National Cancer Institute directly.

Jenna TozziWritten by:

Director of Patient Advocacy

Jenna Tozzi, RN, is the Director of Patient Advocacy at Mesothelioma Hope. With more than 15 years of experience as an adult and pediatric oncology nurse navigator, Jenna provides exceptional guidance and support to mesothelioma patients and their loved ones. Jenna has been featured in Oncology Nursing News and is a member of the Academy of Oncology Nurse & Patient Navigators & the American Nurses Association.

Our Promise to You
Our Promise to You
  1. National Cancer Institute. (2018, April 6). “National Cancer Institute Overview and Mission.” Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  2. National Cancer Institute. (2019, September 6). “Cancer Clinical Trials at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center.” Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  3. National Cancer Institute. (2024, April 3). “NCI Budget and Appropriations.” Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  4. National Cancer Institute. (2024, May 2). “NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
  5. National Institutes of Health. (2024, March 26). “National Cancer Institute (NCI).” Retrieved May 28, 2024, from
Get Help Connecting With National Cancer Institute
How We Can Help

Mesothelioma Hope is passionate about helping patients and families affected by this aggressive cancer. A mesothelioma diagnosis can be scary and isolating, but we’re here for you at every step. Hope is only a phone call away.

(866) 608-8933
Medical Guidance
  • Get a second opinion
  • Find a doctor or cancer center
  • Access clinical trials
  • Improve your quality of life
Financial Assistance
  • Access $30 billion in trust funds
  • File a mesothelioma claim
  • Increase your VA benefits
  • Apply for travel grants
Supportive Care
  • Find a support group or peer mentor
  • Get help with daily tasks
  • Explore respite care options
  • Navigate life post-treatment